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Kermode soars towards dream

Saturday 23 March 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Features, Local, National, Weekend


Kermode soars towards dream
Straight out of finishing Tereora College, Kanoa Kermode is winging his way to the Australian Defence Force in pursuit of his aviation dream. MELINA ETCHES/24032124

Fuelled by a passion for aviation and a relentless drive to conquer the skies, a determined 18-year-old Kanoa Kermode has set his sights on joining the Australian Defence Force (ADF) next month, with the ultimate goal of becoming a pilot.

Recognising the competitive nature of the aviation field and the need to gain invaluable experience, the ambitious young man has chosen to begin his aviation journey as an aircraft technician within the ADF, serving as a stepping stone towards his soaring dreams.

Kanoa was born in Australia and moved to Rarotonga at the age of seven months with his parents Alex Kermode (son of William Bill and Mii Kermode) and Myrna (nee Tama – daughter of Kato and Poko Tama). He was raised in Vaka Puaikura.

Kanoa attended Avatea Primary School, then Apii Te Uki Ou, and Tereora College.

Straight out of finishing high school last December, he begins his career in the ADF on April 2.

Kanoa shares his journey with Cook Islands News to help motivate youth to keep chasing their dreams.

“Stay motivated, pick something you love, and keep fit,” he says.

From a young age Kanoa always knew he wanted to become a pilot.

Although the application process was a long process he says “it doesn’t mean it’s impossible”.

He prepared for his dream job studying the applicable subjects throughout Level 2 at Tereora College.

“I’ve been studying and working (at Ariki Adventures) and preparing myself.”

Kanoa says while some teenagers want to go to university after high school, he didn't want to do that.

“I didn’t want to be in debt, and the plus side of joining the military is that they are really good at training, they pay for your courses and you get benefits as well like medical and dental.”

With the support of his parents, as soon as he turned 17, Kanoa made the necessary enquiries for the processes of applications for the Australia and New Zealand Defence Forces – which took about a year, including a visit to the Cook Islands Australian High Commission.

Keeping his dream in sight, he focused on his preparation, keeping fit and healthy which included a spot in the Cook Islands Aquatics Federation (CIAF) development swimming squad.

Kanoa also did an internship at Air New Zealand and was also one of a group of students from Tereora College selected to participate in the prestigious Air New Zealand Pilot Information Evening initiative in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand, last year.

“Preparation is a big thing,” he explains. “You need to know your responsibilities. Start training and preparing yourself as soon as you apply.”

When he turned 18, he attended interviews at both the New Zealand and Australian defence forces, speaking to as many people and recruiting officers as he could.

“I had researched well and made sure I read up on everything I needed to know… I kept myself motivated,” says Kanoa.

“I wanted to show them my commitment.”

His first test was an aptitude test, based on raw knowledge.

“Motivation is huge, they ask you about what motivates you…”

The physical fitness tests were not as daunting as he had initially imagined since the level of tests depends on which service you are applying for such as the Air Force, the Army or the Navy.

Kanoa was stoked to be accepted in both the Australian and New Zealand defence forces, and noted the great support from Andrew Hall in the Careers Division of the New Zealand Defence Force.

“The hardest part for me was deciding on which job,” he shares.

“I chose to join the ADF simply because they have a bigger military, a bigger budget and therefore more opportunities, so pretty much they had hundreds of jobs.

“I applied for an aircraft technician position – pretty much a starting point to where I want to become a pilot, since they needed technicians and I could start this year.

“Being an aircraft technician is a big commitment.”

When he was notified that his aircraft technician application was successful in the Australian Defence Force, Kanoa shares: “I was so happy, I couldn’t wait to get off the island.”

“But then again it came down to the people you know, like my mum and dad who would sit with me and go through questions, my family and all those who encouraged me through networking – like my mum said.”

His uncle, the late Kave Tamariki, a former member of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, was also a helpful motivator for him.

Kanoa departs Rarotonga this morning winging his way to New South Wales, Australia where he will first start nine weeks of basic soldier training in Wagga Wagga before launching into aircraft work.

“Hopefully when I get qualified, I’ll come back home. I hope to inspire some kids.

“I’m looking forward to building up on my skills and making me a better person.”